Blizzard forces widespread closures of government offices, schools

Cities, counties and school districts - including Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove and Middleton - announced most public functions will shut down Wednesday. As of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, UW-Madison, Madison Area Technical College and Edgewood College were still planning to hold classes Wednesday. uw madison

As the blizzard bore down Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency in 29 Wisconsin counties, a step that put the National Guard on alert and closed the state agencies in those counties to the public on Wednesday. The declaration affects mostly southern counties, including Dane, Jefferson, Iowa, Rock, Dodge and Crawford.

Madison is expected to get 8 to 9 inches of new snow, with heavier accumulations in Kenosha (15 inches) and Milwaukee (12 inches).

Metro Transit will announce its plans for operation by 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Dane County also will close all non-essential services on Wednesday.

Both East Towne and West Towne malls will close at 7 p.m. Tuesday and reopen Wednesday at noon.

Some campuses closed

Some University of Wisconsin System campuses will be closed Wednesday. UW-Milwaukee and UW-Waukesha will not hold classes. uw madison

The Purdue team arrived Monday night. High school closings Wednesday could affect National Signing Day, when high school students officially commit to a college to play football and other sports. Crashing at the hospital

At Meriter Hospital, employees with four-wheel drive vehicles are being asked to consider picking up co-workers for Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning shifts, and the kitchen staff was busy making 100 sandwiches for staff staying overnight Tuesday, said spokeswoman Mae Knowles. St. Mary's Hospital already has more than 30 employees signed up to sleep overnight at the hospital Tuesday - what the hospital calls "Hotel St. Mary's," said spokesman Steve Van Dinter. Madison's Streets Department completed plowing from the storm that hit Monday night and Tuesday morning by noon Tuesday. Madison residents can sign up for e-mail updates on the city of Madison's website: http://www.cityofmadison.com/streets/.

Shelters will stay open

Porchlight is shutting down some of its services Wednesday, including Hospitality House, ordinarily a daytime resource center. Sarah Gillmore, director of social services at the Salvation Army, which runs a homeless shelter for single women and families, said the shelter also will provide services in its main building throughout the day Wednesday, when it would normally be closed. uw madison

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